Red imported fire ants are regarded as pests throughout the Southern US, where they’ve thrived since they were inadvertently introduced from South America in the 1930s or ’40s.
But at a Georgia Tech laboratory, the question at hand is not how to get rid of fire ants, but rather what we can learn from them. These ants build large structures with their bodies without a leader directing the colony.
Those ant aggregations display some interesting material properties, which is why they’ve attracted the attention of mechanical engineers.
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